All's fair in Monicagate page 76

By: Joe Strupp Poll: Public believes coverage was evenhanded
by Joe Strupp

Most Americans believe that press coverage of the Monica Lewinsky affair and the impeachment of President Clinton was fair, according to a poll released by the Freedom Forum last week. But results indicate that the public believes the media could have done better.
The survey also showed that, as of late March, only four percent of those polled said they were still "very interested" in the story, while 59% said they were "not at all interested." This compares with 19% who were very interested in the Kosovo situation (before the recent airstrikes), 34% who were still very interested in the Y2K problem, and 68% who were still very interested in the future of social security.
The poll, conducted between March 8 and March 22 by the Freedom Forum's Media Studies Center, included phone interviews with 1,001 American adults. Results were released last week and showed that 63% of those surveyed ranked coverage of Clinton as fair, while 63% said Lewinsky also received fair treatment from the media. The same poll indicated that 67% thought Linda Tripp received fair coverage, while 69% believed that the press gave balanced reporting to Hillary Clinton.
"The public is not without its criticisms of the coverage of the Clinton/Lewinsky story but lack of fairness is not among them," says Robert Giles, executive director of the Media Studies Center. "As far as the public is concerned, the news media did not play favorites in its scrutiny of the major players in this story."
Other results in the poll showed that 61% of those surveyed felt that independent prosecutor Ken Starr received fair coverage, while 59% felt that first daughter Chelsea Clinton was the subject of balanced reporting.
But respondents also suggested ways that coverage could have been improved, with the chief recommendation being less reporting.
More than eight out of 10 of those polled said they would have reported on the Clinton/Lewinsky story only if there was a new development rather than providing a daily story with little new information, according to the survey. Another 74% said they would have included fewer references to sex, while 60% said they would have left out minor details about the Clinton/Lewinsky encounters and fewer salacious tid bits.
Public approval of the media coverage also dipped between January, when the impeachment trial took place, and March. In January, 55% of those polled rated press coverage as "excellent" or "good," while only 40% gave such marks last month.
"The decline in public opinion about the coverage of the Clinton/Lewinsky story is probably due to a combination of public weariness of the story and the not unreasonable expectation that the story would reach closure at the end of the impeachment trial," says Larry McGill, Media Studies Center research director. "As we know, it did not."
Other related findings of the survey showed that:
? Forty-three percent of Americans believed that NBC delayed its airing of the Jaunita Broaddrick interview for political reasons, while 40% believed the delay occurred in a quest for accuracy. Seventeen percent weren't sure.
? Eighty-four percent of those polled say they still believe in the impeachment process, while 65% say that media coverage of the Clinton impeachment provided important insights into how government operates.
? Fifty-five percent of respondents rated Clinton as "very" or "somewhat" believable.
? Among the news media, journalists Tom Brokaw and Sam Donaldson were rated as the most believable. Ninety-six percent of those surveyed said Brokaw was "very" or "somewhat" believable, while 92% gave the same rating to Donaldson.

?(Editor & Publisher Web [Caption]
?(copyright: Editor & Publisher May 1, 1999) [Caption]


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

Scroll the Latest Job Opportunities From The Media Job Board